The Legacy Of Hongkou, Former Jewish Quarter, Lies Beyond Its Architectural Heritage

“A welcoming and cheerful city.” These are a few words that would translate your feeling at your arrival (Perhaps accompanied by pollution if you arrived during winter.) But for once and for all, let’s show our gratitude to this welcoming city: the city of the world.

To understand better Shanghai’s international profile its worth looking at the past, historically Shanghai has been home thousands of businessmen, artists, politicians, athletes from all around the world, especially thereafter the Shanghai International Settlement.

But a quick tour at Shanghai’s Hongkou would tell another story: the story of Jewish refugees who fled the Holocaust during the second world war (and before). Shanghai played a major role in receiving thousands of refugees. Initially funded by Russian Jewish immigrants in 1927, the Shanghai Hongkou district still stands today as a must-see for any visitors.

More than a hundred years ago Shanghai was home to more than 20,000 Jewish people. Shanghai was a pioneer city in receiving thousands of refugees by creating the first ‘Designated Area for Stateless Refugees’ in China, allowing refugees to stay without visa restrictions. At the time the area was populated by more than a 100,000 Shanghainese locals, who were very welcoming to their new neighbors. (Its written in at the museum!)

The Ohel Moshe Synagogue, now the Jewish Refugees Museum, stands today as a major architecture relic of the era. A proof that deep into its DNA Shanghai has always been a welcoming and modern city.

The true heritage of Hongkou district lies beyond the architecture that stands today, but rather in the impact it left in our lives, where Peace and Humanity laid an indestructible foundation for the City Of The World.

Locals at Shanghai’s former Jewish ghetto.

Shanghai Hongkou in 1943.

Shanghai Hongkou now, at Zhoushan Lu

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